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Arizona Smith and the Search for True Christianity

November 10, 2009

Keith is taking over the keyboard for a change of pace…

It seems to me and my highly opinionated self that Christianity has become a mystery. Rather than follow the simple, yet profoundly powerful message of the Gospel, we’ve let our faith become a set of moral and political standards. Christians everywhere search for this shadowy thing called “abundant life” or – depending on your translation – “life to the full.”

The hang-up is that most of us realize that there’s more to life. We intrinsically KNOW that on some major level we’re missing out. We don’t know what it is we’re missing out on, but we know that 9 -5, talking sports and being stressed out all the time is NOT what God was offering. So we stress more, struggle some and then quit. Repeat as needed.

And our lives look just like THEIR lives. No wonder the church is faltering! We’ve lost our power because we don’t even know what it is. We default to the party line, whether that line is “No DRINKING” or “Be a GOOD person” or “PRAY and read your Bible”. So we struggle, fail, and sit wondering why things aren’t better than they are. Worse than that, those outside the church see that and want nothing to do with it. What’s attractive about a bunch of people who preach rules and sow discord and misery?

But I will now reveal the secret. I will give you the golden ticket and answer all your questions. But be warned: the answer is so simple you will likely not hear it.

In Mark 12:30, 31 Jesus just lays it out there for us to ignore: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Did you catch it? Re-read it. Go back to it. Pray over that. Struggle with it. Bring that to God and wrestle with Him over what that means.

That is the truth that sums up all truth. If you were to take your entire life and boil it down to the lowest common denominator, and then apply the equation you come up with to every aspect of your life it would look like this: LOVE GOD. LOVE PEOPLE. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

Here’s the hard part: you CANNOT do that. It is impossible for you. You cannot love God. You cannot love your neighbor as you do yourself. You can – and should – try to do those things, but you WILL fail. Only God can do that.

So what do you do? If the secret to success is that simple, but you are incapable of following that basic truth, what hope is there? I have good news for you. God will do it for you. In fact, He wants to. He cannot wait to do such a work in your life and fill you with such power that you will feel like a superhero. Don’t go buy colorful tights though – you’ll just further the misconception that Christians are weirdoes.

Paul tells us in Romans 1: 5, 7 that “For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge… Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” Lets recap, shall we? Hitting the highlights: IN HIM YOU HAVE BEEN ENRICHED and YOU DO NOT LACK ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT. God will work in you and enable you with the tools you need to live the life He calls you to. What you do is RECOGNIZE the truth, then BRING your questions and struggles and thoughts to Him, and then ASK for Him to reach into your life and fulfill His word.

I’ll offer you another warning as well: Do NOT chase after God unless you really want Him to really catch hold of you. It will mess your life up. Once God catches on to you (you’re not really capable of catching on to Him. He’s too big.) it will turn your life upside down. It will disrupt your norm.

The reason behind that is simple – almost as simple as the truth that will change your life. You can’t chase the things YOU want once God calls you for His purpose. Matthew 6:24 tells us pretty clearly what Jesus thinks about duplicity. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

James says that “…friendship with the world is hatred towards God” (James 4:4a). He may tell you the same thing He told the Rich Young Ruler – go sell all the Wal-Mart crap you’ve collected and give that money to people who need it to just to survive (Mark 10:21 – my paraphrase). Maybe He’ll ask you to give up Saturday afternoon college football so you have time to volunteer somewhere. He could tell you to move to Africa or reconcile with an enemy. The list of what God might request (or require) is long. But I bet on two things: It’ll be something that turns your life upside down and that He’ll make it possible – and worthwhile.

After all, God doesn’t lie. He can’t say that He’ll give you life more abundantly if it’s going to be as dull and stressful as how you live right now!

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